Midtown Tulsa Real Estate - Lori Cain: The pros and cons of a garage conversion

The pros and cons of a garage conversion

The pros and cons of a garage conversion

Home-owners need to consider the pros and cons of a garage conversion to additional living space. Yes, it adds extra square footage to your living space, but leaves your car out in the cold. Oklahoma is known for our hail storms in addition to tornadoes, and it’s important to some people to protect their cars from damage. house with attached garage

And that’s not really the issue, because many people who HAVE garages simply use them for storage and park their cars in their driveway. But when house shopping, Buyers will tell their Realtor to search for a 3 bedroom, 2 bath, and 2-car garage home, for example. It almost comes out automatically. If you don’t have a garage, your house will not be seen by prospective Buyers because it will not come up in the search.

In midtown Tulsa, garages are a luxury and many homes only have a 1-car garage. Sometimes carports are added. Some people have porte-cochères.

If feasible, I ask Sellers to convert their added living space BACK to a garage before listing.

Garages are important to Buyers in order to store their toys – boats, 4-wheelers, golf carts, skis, bicycles and such. Garages seem more important to men because they want their tools protected and not kept in an unheated shed. People want to put a second fridge in the garage. For areas that have attached garages, it’s a safety feature. People like to open the garage door remotely and be inside before leaving their car. And the list goes on.

The pros and cons of a garage conversion

Obviously, if you NEED additional space, convert your garage to living space. But do so in a manner that it can easily be converted BACK to a functional garage.

If you think your additional living space is so special that someone would prefer to have it than a garage, there is a way to get around not coming up in searches. Advertise that it has a 2-car garage. Then, specify in the remarks that “Seller will convert garage back with acceptable offer.” There is a slim chance that someone will love everything about the house and ask you to convert the living space back to a garage, but be prepared to do so if you make that statement. At least that will get them in your home so that they will consider purchasing it.

I’m sure this differs in other parts of the country, but if you’re selling a home in Tulsa Oklahoma, I would urge you to consider the pros and cons before converting your garage to living space!

Content written and published by Lori Cain.

Copyright 2013 Lori Cain All Rights Reserved - Originally Posted at: Midtown Tulsa Real Estate - Lori Cain


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Please visit my web site if you are shopping for Tulsa homes for sale or call 918-852-5036 for more information about Midtown Tulsa Real Estate. In addition to my advanced grasp of the internet to market your Tulsa home for sale, I include a home staging consultation with every listing AND professional photography - at no aditional cost to you!

Lori is a residential Realtor with eXp Realty serving the greater Tulsa area and specializing in downtown Tulsa and midtown Tulsa real estate.

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Comment balloon 39 commentsLori Cain • November 27 2013 05:37PM


"But do so in a manner that it can easily be converted BACK to a functional garage."  That is so important!


Posted by Fred Griffin Tallahassee Real Estate, Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker (Fred Griffin Real Estate) over 6 years ago

If you are advertising as a two car garage...don't forget to say "Seller will convert garage back with and acceptable offer."

Posted by Margaret Rome Baltimore 410-530-2400, Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome ( HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400) over 6 years ago

I was just thinking about this yesterday as I met a contractor who converted a garage/basement into 2 bedrooms and a family room.  I can see the pros/cons.  Here in NY, we have another issue -- snow!

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) over 6 years ago

It's harder and harder to sell a home in Charlotte without a garage, especially if it's a newer neighborhood. I don't recommend converting one unless someone really has no choice... and you're right that it should be done in a way that lets the conversation go back to its intended purpose relatively easily.

Posted by Nina Hollander, Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor (Coldwell Banker Realty) over 6 years ago
Lori, We are getting an increase in requests for homes with Mother-in-Law quarters. Don't know if this trend will continue. Sold a couple homes where the 2 car garages had been fully convert with easy access features. They were easy sales because there aren't many homes that fit the bill. Happy Thanksgiving.
Posted by Bill and MaryAnn Wagner, Jersey Shore and South Jersey Real Estate (Wagner Real Estate Group) over 6 years ago

The coldest garage in the world is still warmer than the coldest car parked in the driveway in January. Keep the garage if you can.

Posted by Scott Seaton Jr. Bourbonnais Kankakee IL Home Inspector, The Home Inspector With a Heart! (SLS Home Inspections-Bradley Bourbonnais Kankakee Manteno) over 6 years ago

Lori, I've seen many homes where the driveway goes up to a big bay window. I have to agree, families want a garage even if they don't use it. Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA over 6 years ago

We have people that will make the garages extra living space usually to have family rooms. Many will extend the house to add the garages just because of our winter weather. Happy Thanksgiving

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) over 6 years ago

My garage is really a bedroom .  . for my pride and joy.. sports car. .

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family

Posted by Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group, 301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA (Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001) over 6 years ago

It is one of those rooms where it is either in or out depnding on the persons involved. Many garage less homes grandfathered the garage into a room and escaped the codes...However you are reminded that there is NO garage daily

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) over 6 years ago

I don't know your market, but in NY a garage cannot be converted to living space without getting the appropriate permits and a certificate of occupancy.



Posted by Jesse Skolkin (Independent New York State Certified Real Estate Appraiser) over 6 years ago

It can create appraisal issues when converted. Many agents believe that it should be valued at the same price as the rest of the house but a garage also has a utilty function so the per SF should be considered differently than say adding onto the home where the construction is of equal quality and the roof line has been changed. Also in my experience the only home harder to sell than one with a garage conversion is no garage at all. The exception may be in the lower price range of Oklahoma City below $100,000 when you get to 800SF type homes.

Posted by Joe Pryor, REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties (The Virtual Real Estate Team) over 6 years ago

One of our listings had a garage that was converted into living space.  Yes, the additional square footage was nice, but most buyers today want a garage.  This past weeknd it was converted back into a garage.  Hope that helps!

Posted by Amanda Christiansen, Christiansen Group Realty (Christiansen Group Realty (260)704-0843) over 6 years ago

Excellent tip - if you're going to convert the garage, be prepared to convert it back.   Here, buyers want garages.  I haven't had one yet say, "Ahhh, the garage doesn't matter."  It's a requirement.

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (406-270-3667, kat@thehousekat.com, Broker, Blackstone Realty Group - brokered by eXp Realty) over 6 years ago

Fred - that's why I HOPE we have this discussion before the conversion.

Margaret - that's the idea.

Debbie - snow?  LOL! We get snow once or twice a year, but our city SHUTS DOWN. We don't go to work or school - we just play in it until it melts!!

Nina - glad to know you are experiencing the same thing in Charlotte!!

Posted by Lori Cain, Midtown Tulsa Real Estate Top Producer (eXp Realty) over 6 years ago

At least try to put in a tasteful carport.  But seriously,... to sell, you need a garage.

Posted by Geoff ONeill (John L. Scott Medford) over 6 years ago

Bill - that's good to hear. Not the case here NOW, but maybe we'll trend that direction. Although there is an ever-increasing need for mother-in-law quarters.

Scott - I think we're all in agreement.

Michael - Happy Thanksgiving to you also!!

Ed - adding on makes much better sense that converting!!!

Fernanado - that does not surprise me about you.  :)  Happy Thanksgiving to you as well!

Posted by Lori Cain, Midtown Tulsa Real Estate Top Producer (eXp Realty) over 6 years ago

Richie - sounds like a garage is a legal requirement in your neck of the woods?

Jesse - hmmmm - I would assume we would need permits, but I don't know anything about a certificate of occupancy. Interesting.

Joe - your market doesn't sound much different that ours. Hey did you see that we're getting our 2nd Whole Foods?  :) Happy Thanksgiving to you guys!

Amanda and Jared - so, your feedback was that prospective Buyers preferred a garage?  I'm not surprised! Thanks for the feedback!

Kat - good to hear we're pretty unanimous on the subject!

Geoff - my Buyers that want a 2-car and have to buy a 1-car don't mind a carport for the 2nd car, but they still want a garage for the primary at least.

Posted by Lori Cain, Midtown Tulsa Real Estate Top Producer (eXp Realty) over 6 years ago
Lori, this is great advice. Anything you do to a house that shrinks the buyers pool is best done in a way that is easily reversed.
Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (Redfin) over 6 years ago

I was in a home just like this on Monday. NOT going to add value if they sell it and makes it seem "complicated" to the buyers to fix it. Great advice Lori!!

Posted by Janis Borgueta, LIC RE Salesperson (Key Properties of the Hudson Valley ) over 6 years ago
Instant reblog of the day with this intro... Garage conversions back to Garages is a great idea outlined in this post. Garages in the lower price ranges in particular can be the difference between saLe and no sale. It also makes a huge difference in the length of time a home is in the market. That also translates in to money for the Seller!
Posted by Cheryl Ritchie, Southern Maryland 301-980-7566 (RE/MAX Leading Edge www.GoldenResults.com) over 6 years ago

Patricia - it DOES shrink the Buyer pool - I may have to edit my post and point that out - thank you!

Janis - it does complicate things for the Buyers - another good point!

Cheryl - thank you so much!!

Posted by Lori Cain, Midtown Tulsa Real Estate Top Producer (eXp Realty) over 6 years ago

Now off to Grandmother's house we go. Happy Thanksgiving fellow Rainers!!!



Posted by Lori Cain, Midtown Tulsa Real Estate Top Producer (eXp Realty) over 6 years ago

And get permits for the conversion!  The number one issue we run into with garage work and stalls deals.  Happy Thanksgiving.

Posted by Jay & Michelle Lieberman, Creating Calm in the Buying and Selling Chaos (Keller Williams World Class) over 6 years ago

There are a number of issues that become a concern from the home inspectors view point.

During original home construction, a garage is not built with the same requirements;

A vapor barrier is not requirede below the slab floor.

Insulation requirements are not the same as for living space.

Unless the HVAC is in the attic, if becomes very difficult to place the duct registers in functional locations.

The biggest concern is that since the walls are in place, structurally speaking, the home owner or Uncle Bob frequently perform the work.  In most cases, this is a GIANT RED FLAG! 

Posted by Paul A. Perry, Home Inspector - Crossville & Cookeville, TN (Certified Inspections, PC - Residential & Commercial Property Inspections ) over 6 years ago

I keep trying to find the LIKE button for your Turkey photo!  Note to self: stop switching back and forth from FB to AR

Great post, and a topic I've not seen discussed in this forum, but well should be!  Yes, the garage conversion, and I've seen some really bad "home jobs" too!  

Posted by Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED (RETIRED / State License is Inactive) over 6 years ago

Garage conversions are typically a nightmare for selling anything except a high return investment property, and even in those cases they are less desirable than competing properties unless the rents are much higher.  If you are considering a garage conversion, please don't!  Great points on conversions and I like Paul Perry's points as a home inspector too!

Posted by Jared Garfield, Invest With The Best For The Highest Returns! (Rich Life Real Estate Team) over 6 years ago

Good evening Lorie, stopped by to read your post and hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving. 

Posted by Charles Stallions Real Estate Services, Buyers Agent 800-309-3414 Pace and Gulf Breeze,Fl. (Charles Stallions Real Estate Services Inc) over 6 years ago

Converting it back is always a sensible idea before the sale.

Posted by Jill Sackler, LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate (Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500) over 6 years ago

Hi, Lori! Hope you enjoyed Thanksgiving! Great post...I think suggesting to a client that they convert their living space back to garage space is a good idea depending on where they live and what the value is of a garage. I'd like to find out what the approximate price range would be in my area and then I could give them that information. Garages are a big plus in New England, but in parts of my town, where many homes date back to the 1800s there is often just a smaller, detached garage, if there is even a garage at all. People get used to looking at houses without garages if they want to live in the center of town.

Posted by Nina Rogoff, Sells Real Estate! (RE/MAX Executive Realty) over 6 years ago

Yep, Jay, the permits are important!

Paul - always helpful to hear the home inspector's point of view!! Thank you!

Carla - hahahah! Yes, we need a "like" button on AR! Yes, the garage conversions are usually "home jobs" for sure!

Jared - just don't do it, right?!!

Joyce - very nice Thanksgiving. Hope you did also!

Jill - the conversion back will almost always pay off!

Nina - My home was built in 1915 and we don't have a garage. We have a detached carriage house that is a living quarters and we park under the porte cochere. So, yes it depends on the area of town you're in.

Posted by Lori Cain, Midtown Tulsa Real Estate Top Producer (eXp Realty) over 6 years ago

Lori, I guess, it will not be that easy to reclaim the garage space after converting it into a living area/space. However, that's the best advice for sure.

Posted by Praful Thakkar, Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale (LAER Realty Partners) over 6 years ago

Hi Lori,

This post reminded me of the frequently seen remarks I have seen on HUD home appraisals where the property is labled UI for uninsured due to illegal garage conversion.  Happy Thanksgiving and best of GREAT success to you always!

Posted by Jordon Wheeler, J W Group Real Estate Sales and Service (The Jordon Wheeler Group) over 6 years ago

Hi,  Lori!  This post is included in this week’s Last Week’s Favorites.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (Redfin) over 6 years ago


Another great post. This is very timely, as I have shown several homes with garage conversions and they are all negatives per the buyers. I sold  avery high end home that had 1 of the 3 bays converted into offive space but we noegotiated it being changed back to the original setup before closing. I find most buyers do NOT want a conversion. I have seen a few where there was NO garage as a result. It can also cause a problem with the loan and appraisal - most of these seem to be done without permits which can be a big red flag for an appraiser.


Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (eXp Realty of California) over 6 years ago

I can honestly say that I have never had a client tell me that no they absolutely will not buy a house with a garage!

Posted by Shanna Hall, I love selling houses!!!St. Louis, MO 314-703-1311 (Real Estate Solutions) over 6 years ago

I can see it both ways.  I think that this is a case where resale is more important unless a buyer is planning to never move or they are willing to convert it back in the future. Because you are right, if it doesn't qualify as far as criteria of having a garage, the most likely buyers will never see it.  Thank you for sharing!

Posted by Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group) over 6 years ago

Praful - I've had at least one client convert his back. It wasn't that difficult.

Jordon - I don't know that we have strict laws in Oklahoma about garage conversions, but I've read enough comments to know that's not true everywhere.

Patricia - thank you as always for your kindness!!

Jeff - those pesky permits getting in the way again!  :) And thank you for your kinds words also!

Shanna - Could not have said that better myself!!!

Karen - thank you. Resale always HAS to be considered, whether you think it will happen or not.

Posted by Lori Cain, Midtown Tulsa Real Estate Top Producer (eXp Realty) over 6 years ago

Today's homeowners and homebuyers love detached living spaces. These small stand-alone structures located on the property come with all sorts of benefits -- from added room for storage and recreation to extra income.

Posted by Inna Ivchenko, Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA (Barcode Properties) almost 2 years ago